Spinach and Sausage Lasagna

This recipe is not your typical lasagna, but it’s a delicious twist on the classic.  Since the whole thing only uses 1/2 lb. of pasta, it’s really easy to make this very healthy by using extra lean sausage and low-fat cheeses

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Fresh Tomato and Pesto Pasta

This pasta dish is simple, yet really delicious.  It’s a great as a side option for Baked Shrimp Scampi or as a quick dinner on its own.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. thin linguini or angel hair
  • 3/4 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 – 1 cup powdered parmesan cheese, and more for topping

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large saute pan, saute the garlic with 1 tbsp olive oil until it’s fragrant
  • Add the pesto sauce to the garlic combine well
  • Pour in the white wine, chicken broth and olive oil and bring to a simmer
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes and stir well over medium-low heat
  • Cook the pasta as directed and then add it into the pesto sauce mixture
  • Keep the heat on medium-low and and cook the pasta in the sauce so it absorbs the flavor
    • If the pasta seems a bit dry, add in more chicken broth or olive oil
  • Once the pasta is well coated in the pesto sauce, turn off the heat and pour in the powdered parmesan (as much or as little as you desire)
  • Top it all off with a little more parmesan and serve immediately!

Eggplant Parmesan

If you couldn’t tell, I’m slightly obsessed with Italian food… I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t like eggplant, you’ll like this. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant (try to pick a male eggplant because they have less seeds – here’s how you tell if it’s male or female)
  • 2 -3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Robust Red Sauce (approximately 1-2 cups, depending on preference)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Parmesan cheese (or Pecorino Romano), grated

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Prepare your eggplant by peeling it and slicing it very thin, at most 1/8″ thick (I think I’m going to buy a mandolin to make this process easier)
  • Pour the eggs, and breadcrumbs into two separate containers (I use these breading pans – they’re great)
  • Dip your eggplant slice into the egg and then coat it in breadcrumbs
  • Continue this process with all of the eggplant slices
  • Brush a baking tray with olive oil and place the eggplant onto the tray
  • Generously brush the breaded eggplant slices with olive oil
  • Bake for 20 minutes (10 minutes on each side) at 350°F
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and layer the slices on a dish in between paper towels (to blot excess oil)
  • Lightly coat the bottom of a deep casserole dish like this one with the tomato sauce
  • Place a layer of eggplant down and spoon more sauce on top of eggplant, I usually make sure it’s covered but I don’t like to use too much
  • Next, put down a layer mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle a bit of parmesan (or pecorino) – you can make this as cheesy as you want, but I wouldn’t put down too much because it adds up over the layers
  • Put another layer of eggplant on top of that and follow the same steps until you reach your desired height
  • Bake in the oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes (covered for 20, uncovered for 10) or until it’s heated through

Chicken Parmesan

I’m always in the mood for anything followed by … Parmesan.  Plus, baking the chicken cutlets instead of frying them makes this dish a healthier choice (bonus).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts (or veal), pounded fairly thin (about 1/3″ thick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Robust Red Sauce (approximately 1-2 cups, depending on preference)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Parmesan cheese (or Pecorino Romano), grated

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Prepare your chicken breast by pounding it out and cutting into pieces of desired size (I typically get 7-8 cutlets per pound)
  • Pour the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into three separate containers (I use these breading pans – they’re great)
  • Dredge your chicken it the flour (shake off any excess), then dip it in the egg, and finally coat it in breadcrumbs
  • Continue this process with all of the chicken breasts
  • Brush a baking tray with olive oil and place the cutlets onto the tray
  • Generously brush the breaded chicken breasts with olive oil
  • Bake for 20 minutes (10 minutes on each side) at 350°F
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and layer the cutlets on a dish in between paper towels (to blot excess oil)
  • On a clean baking tray, spoon a bit of sauce where you plan on placing each cutlet.  Place the baked cutlets on top of the sauce, cover with desired amount of sauce and top off with equal parts mozzarella and parmesan (or pecorino romano) cheese
  • Put the cutlets back in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted



Classic Baked Rigatoni

This Italian comfort food always hits the spot… hot, or cold the next morning (is that so wrong?).   There are so many things you can do with this dish to personalize it to your taste, consider it a blank canvas.

INGREDIENTS

The Basics…

  • 1 lb. Rigatoni
  • 1 small (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese – approximately 2 cups
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups Robust Red Sauce (approximately 5 ladles full – or as much as you desire)
Consider Adding…
  • Fresh veggies (broccoli, zucchini, artichoke hearts, red peppers, black olives)
  • Ground beef or turkey; sausage (brown the meat separately and add it to your sauce)

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Cook your pasta a minute less than ‘al dente’ – you want it to be too hard to eat, but somewhat cooked
  • Strain the cooked pasta and return to the same pot – stir in the ricotta cheese while the pasta is still hot
  • Add in the beaten egg and mix well
  • Pour in at least 1 cup of mozzarella cheese (you can either save the rest for topping, or cut it off there)
  • Add in 1/2 cup of the pecorino romano (or parmesan) and save the rest for topping
  • Pour in the sauce and mix well – you want the mixture to be pretty wet because it will absorb in the pasta when it cooks in the oven
  • Pour the cheesy pasta into a large baking dish and top off with desired cheese(s)
  • Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes (covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes and uncovered for the last 10)

Robust Red Sauce

This red sauce is rich in flavor and has a little bit of a kick.  It goes well with any Italian dish and I use it with a lot more than just spaghetti and meatballs…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 28 oz. can Pastene ‘Kitchen Ready’ tomatoes (if you want a smooth sauce, use 2 cans of this instead of the diced)
  • 1/3 cup red wine (one you would drink)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and then add the garlic – saute until fragrant
  • Add in the cans of tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil and turn the heat up to medium-high, bringing the sauce to a boil
  • Add the red wine  
  • Season the sauce with the oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour (or until it begins to thicken), stirring frequently – I usually also break up the large tomato chunks with the back of the spoon

Mediterranean Meatloaf


This is another one of my mother’s recipes that was a staple in our household growing up.  It’s a Middle Eastern version of good old ‘meat and potatoes.’ 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley (approximately 10 stems), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb. (or more if desired) baby potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the ground beef, onion, parsley salt and pepper and mix well with your hands
  • Pour in the juice from the canned diced tomatoes, and mix well
  • Boil the potatoes and slice them into 1/3″ slices
  • Place the meat into the center of a baking pan with high edges (you don’t want the juice to leak)
  • Press down with your hands until the meat is about 1″ thick
  • With your index finger, divide the flattened meat into four by making a shallow indention and then make random shallow indentations with your index finger in each section (this will help keep the juices in the meat while it’s cooking)
  • Top the meat with the sliced potatoes and sprinkle with salt
  • Evenly place the diced tomatoes on top of the potatoes
  • Bake at 375°F for approximately 45 minutes
*Try serving this dish with fresh pita bread – makes a tasty sandwich!